Melbourne: Airport set to have new freeway

The Bulla Bypass and Melbourne Airport Link are a step closer after the projects were endorsed by an independent planning panel.

In January, Planning Minister Richard Wynne appointed Nick Wimbush, Gordon Anderson and David Whitney as panellists to assess Amendment C190 to the Hume Planning Scheme, which has been prepared to protect land earmarked for the future Melbourne Airport Link (MAL) and Bulla Bypass (BB) road proposals.

In a report prepared for the minister and released last month, the panel recommended Amendment C190 be adopted with only minor changes, and that the BB and first stage of the MAL be expedited. VicRoads has suggested these projects could be 15 to 20 years away.

“Based on the traffic modelling and other evidence and submissions, the panel recognises the existing road network is constrained and often congested – a situation which residential development and other growth will worsen,” the panellists said in their report.

“Much of the expected extra travel demand pressure will continue to fall on two-lane undivided roads such as Sunbury Road.”

“The panel strongly supports building the Bulla Bypass and that part of the Melbourne Airport Link south of Somerton Road as soon as possible.”

Aside from an extension of the public acquisition overlay (PAO) to allow access to Wildwood Winery at 80 St Johns Road, Bulla, and the removal of the exhibited POA from 1180 Somerton Road, Bulla, to allow the residents to keep their Phillip Johnson-designed front garden, the panel acknowledged VicRoads’ proposed alignments for the BB and MAL would result in the least impact to private properties.

Despite this, 37 privately owned parcels of land would be affected, 17 of those will be divided into two or more pieces and four houses or sheds will be lost.

Kerrie O’Riley and his wife Judith were among five residents who made a submission to the panel opposing the amendment.

Their property would be severed with 1.1 hectare being subject to acquisition, which would run centrally across their horse training facility.

Mr O’Riley said while talk of the road projects have been the source of anxiety for some years, the couple are resigned to the fact their home of more than 40 years will be sacrificed.

“It’s progress and it makes sense, but any time there’s progress someone gets hit in the neck,” Mr O’Riley said. “I’m 72 now. By the time they get around to it I might be just a memory.”

The Panel’s report can be viewed online here